Are Prospect Profiles Worth It?

Whether you’re a researcher or fundraiser, you may have a love/hate relationship with the prospect profile. Yes, they can be time-consuming to create, though if your development team doesn’t use profiles at all, you could be missing out. Since a profile is the master document of all your fundraising intelligence on each prospect, they can often make or break a major gift opportunity.

The Case for Profiles

Fundraising intelligence is not about gathering information for the sake of gathering information. It’s about aligning your nonprofit’s mission with the goals, interests, and financial capacities of various prospects and donors. Whether you are researching 10 individuals or screening several thousand, the data you collect is often too complex to keep in spreadsheets or notes in your donor database.

So why collect all this complex information in the first place? Here are a few reasons to consider (or reconsider) profiles in your prospect research:

  • Organize your work by keeping prospects and associated records in one place.
  • Learn valuable information about an individual’s propensity, affinity, capacity, and even their personality — all this information is invaluable when fundraisers begin to establish relationships with prospective donors.
  • Analyze patterns across all your profiles to identify “ideal major gift donor” characteristics.

The Profile

Your prospect research tool may offer a profile feature. This is the master file where all your research lives. Within an iWave Profile, you can quickly see the prospect’s name, picture, constituent ID (for easy identification in your DMS),  and all kinds of personal information including home address, business address, spousal information, phone number, email, and much more. Whatever you find on your prospect, this is the place to keep a record.

Below that is the record summary. Here you can see a high-level analysis of your prospect’s propensity to give, affinity to your cause, and capacity to give. Details include board membership details, a giving interests chart, and details on external giving and wealth.

Next, you can view all the records used to generate the iWave Profile. Maybe you manually researched the prospect and added the records in yourself. Or maybe the records were pulled in during iWave Screening or during the automatic iWave Profile building process. You can add and delete these records as required. The records listed impact the prospect’s iWave Score. If you included internal giving data in an iWave Screening, your prospect will also have an RFM score.

Topping it all off, you can add notes for fundraisers or other team members that lists critical insight not covered by the data. Maybe the prospect had a recent conversation with a board member, or maybe you want to highlight recent changes in their liquidity. This section is where prospect researchers can synthesize the data they uncovered and make suggestions on which prospects are worth a closer look.

When your iWave Profile is complete you can share it with others on your team, set alerts to notify you when records change or new records are added, or export to a PDF so fundraisers can take it on the road.

The Long and Short of It

Jennifer Filla suggests having different profile levels depending on the situation. Here is a direct quote from Jennifer’s blog showcasing two profile types:

“Identification Profile – A brief profile to confirm the ability to give and look at giving history and community involvement. A major gift capacity rating is provided. This is for when you don’t know anything about the prospect or need to confirm wealth and inclination before spending your time.

Solicitation Profile – A long profile that searches for everything relevant to making an ask for a major gift. In addition to capacity ratings, this profile includes an executive summary to help you with strategy. As the name implies, this profile helps you prepare for a major gift solicitation.”

This means that a researcher doesn’t have to research a full profile for every prospect. There are situations when the fundraiser is only interested in receiving a brief, high-level profile to begin the cultivation process. Other times, a more in-depth profile may be required before taking steps toward major gift solicitation.

How do I get started?

You can create iWave Profiles in one of two ways. Check out these knowledge articles from the iWave Support site to learn about profile creation step-by-step:

  • Build your own iWave Profile using the 360 Search
  • Screen a list of names and generate iWave Profiles at the click of a button from the results window.


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